UK news

Harassment officer posts ‘racist’ cartoon

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Student groups have condemned a university for failing to discipline a harassment officer who posted an antisemitic picture on the internet.

Andrew Collingwood, who works in the University of York’s biology department, added the image to a Palestine Solidarity Campaign group on social networking site Facebook.

The photograph was taken during a protest in the city against Israel’s actions in Gaza last month.

It shows a placard bearing an image of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wearing a witch’s hat and waving a Star of David-topped wand.

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Amnesty charges Israel and Hamas over Gaza

By Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Human rights organisation Amnesty International has accused the British government of “aiding Israeli war crimes” during the Gaza conflict, and called for a UN arms embargo.

In a 38-page report, Fuelling conflict: foreign arms supplies to Israel/Gaza, Amnesty said both Israel and Hamas had used weapons supplied from abroad to attack civilians.

Israel’s arms included US-made shells used for deploying white phosphorus, and British engines made in Lichfield, Staffordshire, used in drone aircraft, it claimed.

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Ofcom clears Channel 4 on Iran message

By Simon Rocker and Marcus Dysch, February 26, 2009

Ofcom, the broadcast watchdog, has rejected a complaint against Channel 4 for choosing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to deliver its Alternative Christmas Message last year.

This week Ofcom said that it had received 295 complaints from viewers that the Iranian leader was an “offensive and inappropriate” choice because of his views on the Holocaust, women and homosexuals.

But it stated that the actual content of the broadcast could be “described as non-confrontational, comprising as it did a message of goodwill to the UK audience”.

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Churchill returns fire over play

By Tessa Roberts, February 26, 2009

Playwright Caryl Churchill has lashed out at writer and columnist Howard Jacobson after he claimed her latest work was antisemitic.

In last week’s Independent and subsequently in the JC, Mr Jacobson criticised Ms Churchill’s 10-minute Royal Court Theatre play, Seven Jewish Children, as “one-sided” and “Jew-hating. The play, billed as a short history of Israel, finished last Saturday.

But Ms Churchill, a patron of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, described Mr Jacobson’s criticism as a “usual tactic”.

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Board asks for help for Iran Bahá’is

February 26, 2009

The Board of Deputies president, Henry Grunwald QC, has written to Foreign Secretary David Miliband with a renewed call to the government to support the persecuted Bahá’i community in Iran.

The Board made representations to the government last May when six community leaders were arrested and detained. The group, including a seventh leader already in custody, has now been charged with various crimes including “insulting religious sanctity”, “undermining the Islamic Republic of Iran” and even “espionage for Israel”.

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Airline left me with just shirt on my back

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 26, 2009

A young Orthodox man was left without his clothes for four days and only a T-shirt and jeans to wear for Shabbat after the airline Thomsonfly told him last Friday that their flight from Tel Aviv had run out of luggage space.

Yisroel Rothstein, 17, of north Manchester, tried to explain that the rest of his clothes were in storage while his family moved home.

“I wasn’t asking for a brand new suit but at least, if they don’t give me my luggage, they should offer a limited amount to spend on some clothes,” he said after his suitcase was delivered, ripped, on Monday afternoon.

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A Who’s Who of world politics

February 19, 2009

The main players at the first London Conference on Antisemitism read like a who’s who of world politics. There were a dozen ministers from different governments and different continents, the president of the Austrian parliament, the vice-president of the Bundestag, the state prosecutor for Argentina and British government ministers and MPs. The conference differed from previous such events because they were usually occasions for Jews to speak to Jews. In London, deliberately, the majority of the participants were non-Jews.

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Airline silent on flight cancellation claims

By Jan Shure, February 19, 2009

Thomsonfly have refused to deny suggestions that they will be scrapping flights between Manchester and Tel Aviv.

Rival airline Jet2 last week announced they will be making weekly flights to Israel from May.

The no-frills airline, now flying to 40 destinations from six UK airports, launched its Tel Aviv route with the claim that it will be “the only airline to offer a direct route from the north of the UK, following the demise of other services”.

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Boycott targets kosher shops

By Leon Symons and Simon Rocker, February 19, 2009

Moves to boycott Israeli goods have taken a turn described as “sinister” with the publication of a 68-page report ‘outing’ companies and individuals that sell goods from West Bank settlements.

The report, published by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, has been condemned by Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, as “sinister and misleading”.

One of the report’s key sources is a known pro-Hizbollah website, Innovative Minds.

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Outrage as SOAS invites Hizbollah-linked speaker

By Marcus Dysch, February 19, 2009

Jewish groups have attacked plans to bring a Hizbollah-linked journalist to Britain for a conference on Islam.

Ibrahim Mousawi is expected to speak at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) next month, after a similar appearance in November.

He edits Lebanese newspaper Al Intiqad and previously worked for the Shi’ite TV station, Al Manar.

The Board of Deputies and the CST said that his presence would cause great concern to the Jewish community.

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